Diggers’ Requiem artists in shout out
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Diggers’ Requiem artists in shout out

What a privilege it was to attend the first Australian performance of the Diggers' Requiem on Saturday at Canberra's Lewellyn Hall.

This work was premiered at Amiens in April this year, with musicians from France and Germany, a French-Australian conductor and Australian soloists.

Why do we remember the Armistice; a date whose significance is shared by all parties, not just Australia?

Soldiers mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens.

Soldiers mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens.Credit:Reuters

Lasting peace is as far away as it was in 1914.

The Australian War Memorial, which sponsored this performance, concentrates on the remembrance of past wars. It was founded as a shrine to national sacrifice.

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It can just as easily become a recruiting booth for the personnel to run future wars.

I know the gnawing gap in my mother's pastoralist family when their only son went missing, declared killed in action three months later, and left in limbo for 50 years.

Details of the downing of his plane during a mass raid late in World War II were eventually unearthed in the records of a German anti-aircraft battery.

The struggle for a world without war is a silent one.

The courage of those soldiers 100 years ago is reflected in the courage to overcome this facade of war as somehow bright and glorious by relentless peace campaigners such as Sue Wareham.

The artists led on Saturday by director, Chris Latham, gave a combined shout out for reason and compassion in the face of suffering; a putting aside of aggression, in favour of comradeship and respect.

They showed the discipline of soldiers surviving years of trench warfare.

S. Horn, Melba

Sponsorship not on

I am horrified to learn of AWM sponsorships from weapons manufacturers.

It is unacceptable that visitors are greeted by an illuminated screen featuring the corporate logos of these companies.

The 'BAE Systems Theatre' is actively promoted for hire, thus marketing Britain's biggest weapons maker. BAE Systems is a major military supplier to Saudi Arabia, a country known to sponsor terrorism, and which is currently committing atrocities against civilians in Yemen.

The AWM has a partnership deal with Lockheed Martin, the world's largest weapons manufacturer, which has been outed for corrupt behaviour in the past.

The deal includes assistance with commemorating the centenary of Armistice Day.

During World War I, the weapons industry made huge profits as Australians and others were slaughtered by the millions.

Many other multinational weapons companies are sponsors and donors, including Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Thales.

We would not accept cigarette or alcohol company sponsorship of hospital wards. It is totally inappropriate for weapons makers to sponsor our national war memorial.

The Australian War Memorial should be a place of genuine commemoration and learning.

All funding from weapons companies should cease.

Evelina Brighty, Campbell

Don't deny peace vigil

In the plan for the national capital, Griffin designed Anzac Parade as a spacious public park. It aligned with the land axis that intersects the lake's water axis and the national triangle.

It was intended to provide recreational and cultural amenities for the adjoining residential areas and the wider community. Photos prior to 1965 show an area almost 200 metres wide and planted with parkland and gardens.

As the guardians of the symbolic role of Canberra in the national identity, the National Capital Authority has disappointingly refused a space in the parade for a citizens' Gathering for Peace on Remembrance Day, November 11, to stand in silent commemoration of the victims of war. The pretext is a prior commitment to the Australian War Memorial for exclusive use of the parkway. Or is it a parade ground now?

This decision by the NCA and the Australian War Memorial to deny a permit for the peace vigil as part of the centenary of the Great War cannot be allowed to stand.

Brett Odgers, Swinger Hill

Protest divisive

So peace activists want to hold a silent vigil alongside the Remembrance Day service on Anzac Parade and Professor Stanley (Letters, October 5) feels that it is "totalitarian" for the NCA to deny them.

The ACT has an established precedent for denying the right to conduct even a silent vigil where it may cause offence (for example, the prohibition on prayer vigils outside abortion clinics).

I suspect the majority of Canberrans agree that this is a balanced and socially responsible restraint on the right to protest. But I have to wonder whether Dr Wareham and Professor Stanley support that constraint and accept that sometimes, the right to demonstrate should be restricted to prevent offence to others. Or perhaps, like the anti-abortion protesters, they believe that their views and rights somehow transcend those of others.

The NCA is right to deny this protest which could be offensive to others at the ceremony.

Kym MacMillan, O'Malley

'Refresh' doubts

I share Maria Greene's scepticism (Letters, October 9) about the existence of an ACT planning strategy. The government's residential density and light rail decisions and its ad hoc acquisition of rural leases lack an evidence base.

The government will not restore its credibility unless the planning strategy "refresh" contains a detailed analysis of (a) Long-term projected growth and change in the population; (b) Housing choice and affordability by location, household type and age; (c) Transport including the impact on mode choice of the coverage and frequency of the bus network, whether inter-town public transport should be based on the trackless tram or light rail, the levels of long-stay parking and parking charges at major centres and the potential impact of automated vehicles; (d) The costs and benefits of alternative employment and residential distributions including potential greenfields land supply; (e) Incentives to increase employment at preferred centres; and (f) How the strategy reduces greenhouse emissions.

It needs to be accompanied by an infrastructure plan indicating where development is proposed to occur over the next 20 years and its indicative costs.

It was once said that Canberra was six suburbs in search of a city. Unless the planning strategy "refresh" is based on comprehensive analysis and genuine community engagement it will rightfully be criticised as platitudes in search of a strategy. Will the government and its under-resourced and underskilled bureaucracy be willing or capable of more than a token assessment?

Mike Quirk, Garran

Report a wake-up call

The IPCC has released its special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The report is deeply confronting and should be a wake-up call for all governments. The first role of government is – or should be – to protect its citizens.

While we normally think of this in terms of internal order and defence against external foes, the Australian government has a moral obligation to act to defend its population and future generations against the ravages of extreme climate change.

However, the government's initial response has been extremely dismissive, but defensive and supportive of the coal and mining industries.

The Prime Minister has stated that he "is not going to spend money on climate conferences and all that nonsense" and the Environment Minister says it would be "irresponsible to phase out coal by 2050".

This shows that the government does not yet take climate change seriously – it is considered to be "nonsense".

The government acts on behalf of vested interests, not on behalf of its citizens, the vast majority of whom want change. The Coalition may be comfortable with its rising emissions trajectory, but the majority of people are not.

We need a credible plan aiming to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions to near net zero by 2050. That, in essence, is what the Paris Agreement is about. It is also what it will take to contain the rise in global temperatures which, unchecked, will affect us profoundly.

Darryl Fallow, Stirling

Behind the eight ball

According to your report ("Coal-based power must be phased out", October 8 , p5) Australian officials allegedly sought to remove references to phasing out coal from the final version of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC's) report on 1.5°C warming. This is an outrage if true.

The Minister for Environment, Melissa Price, denies it but who can believe someone who sits on a report for weeks about Australia's emissions rising before releasing it late on the eve of grand final day? I certainly don't.

According to the IPCC report, it will take enormous effort to limit warming to 1.5°C. All countries have to phase out coal and other fossil fuels as fast as possible and they will have to pull carbon dioxide out of the air.

It means an immediate end to deforestation and massive reafforestation. We will have to get on a war footing to achieve the changes needed. Unfortunately, the situation is even worse than the report suggests, and the report itself is pretty dire. Capping warming at 1.5°C is still going to wreck the Great Barrier Reef and inundate low-lying islands and deltas. It will see a reduction in food yields. Millions will have to retreat from coastlines.

Does the minister have a copy, I wonder?

Jenny Goldie, Cooma

DRS absence bad form

A few nights ago I settled down and watched the first semi-final of the JLT Cup cricket match between Queensland and Tasmania. The game was played in a good spirit and featured several absorbing sub-contests between batsman and bowler. Tasmania was eventually able to surpass Queensland's score despite a slow and nervous start when it lost some early wickets during the run chase.

Sadly, the game was adversely affected by a small number of possibly contentious decisions, on the part of the officials. This was evidenced by a few confident appeals for "caught behind" which were rejected by the on-field umpires. In each instance, the circumstances were tight with the fielding team clearly not completely convinced that the correct decision had been made. The television replays suggested at least one instance where the ball had made minimal contact with the bat.

The decision review system (DRS) was introduced a couple of years ago to help avoid such contentious decisions.

It does this by providing for a third official with access to a system designed to allow the official to review and assess each and every dispute and to make a decision on the matter. The obvious question to be asked here is, with a match of such importance (ie. the loser drops out of the competition), why was there no DRS for this game, and, if it was there, why was it not employed to check and rule on these situations?

Given the status and relative importance of this game, and all games designated as "first class", (including JLT Cup, T20 and Big Bash, surely the officials should have access to aids such as the DRS?

Andrew Rowe, Florey

Daylight saving's perils

I find it hard to understand why Australia is persisting with daylight saving. At a time when the cost of electricity is a major problem people will be turning on lights one hour earlier in the morning and in the heat of summer workers will be rushing home one hour earlier to turn on airconditioners.

The fact is being ignored that the states involved are going to be an extra hour out of step with all the major trading Asian countries, including India and China that do not have daylight saving.

Finally those that adopt daylight saving seem to be unaware of the research that shows that teenage children need more, rather than less sleep in the morning.

This comes at a time when year 12 and tertiary students are preparing for their annual exams and nobody seems to care that country children are being forced to leave their buses in the heat of the day.

Ken Waters, Maida Vale,

South Australia

We don't need Defqon.1

The Leader of the Greens in Canberra, Shane Rattenbury announced he would try to negotiate a music concert Defqon.1, banned in NSW, to perform in Canberra because "it would be good for the tourist industry".

It does not seem to concern him the concert was banned because 700 young people had to be treated for drug use and two died as a result of drug overdose.

I cannot believe our politicians can stoop to such low standards all in the name of making money.

He seems to ignore the fact that drug pedlars love to exploit vulnerable young people and make money from these events.

It's time we had politicians with better standards.

Penelope Upward, O'Connor

TO THE POINT

OUR TAXES AT WORK

Most Australians will be appalled to learn "religious schools will be guaranteed the right to turn away gay students and teachers under changes to federal anti-discrimination laws recommended by the government's long-awaited review into religious freedom". What should appal us more is that our tax dollars will be used to support this homophobic bigotry.

Fred Pilcher, Kaleen

DRUGGED RAGERS

Not content with giving his name to Rattenbury's Rattler, Shane would put more drugged ragers on our roads, causing others to die as well. The "pillers" of society.

B. Smillie, Duffy

PARKING PUZZLE

As a 92-year-old war widow I am puzzled as to why the ACT planning department is so averse to providing service and delivery parking adjacent to apartments suitable for the elderly. I have lived in my own apartment for more than eight years. I would like to stay here for the rest of my happy life. Our government is obviously not in sync with other Australian governments in helping the elderly to stay in their own homes.

Nan Inger, Forrest

WHO'S WRONG HERE?

The environment minister says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has got the climate science wrong. What they got wrong was not donating to the Liberal Party.

David Clark, Scullin

CHINA ON RIGHT TRACK

It's not surprising Pacific nations are turning to China, not, Australia for aid and support. Climate change threatens these countries. China is serious about tackling it, Australia is not.

Michael McCarthy, Deakin

FIGHTING BACK

The debacle of a radio announcer bullying jelly-fish politicians to support his self-interest has had the expected result of generating copycat bullying of the dissenting electorate by those same brow-beaten politicians. Fortunately, these dissenting electors have the prospect of maintaining their self-respect at the ballot box whereas the politicians have no self-respect to preserve.

Patrick Robertson, Rivett

A NATION OF LOSERS

Projecting gambling advertising on to the sails of the Sydney Opera House conveys, in so many ways, just one message to the world. That is that Australia is a nation of losers.

Ronald Elliott, Sandringham, Vic

TRUE INSIGHT

Chris Masters' Jonestown might provide an insight into the man and the political class, however, if you really want to discover the real story of the Sydney Opera House, then Helen Pitt's The House is a must (Letters, October 10).

Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NS